The red palm weevil poses a problem this year for Israelis using palm branches for s’chach, the Agriculture Ministry warned on Monday.
The weevil, which has infested many of Israel’s palm trees, remains in the branches even after being cut down from the tree. Although harmless to people, they could fall from infested branches onto people’s heads or into their food during meals in the sukkah.
The creatures, about 3.5 centimeters long and reddish-brown in color, have reportedly proliferated in Israel’s palm trees this summer. Many trees “suffocate” and die as thousands of the weevils infiltrate the trunk, devouring it from inside.
The red palm weevil is native to southeast Asia, and agricultural experts think it was probably introduced into Israel by foreign workers illicitly importing agricultural products.
Health officials are advising the public to obtain their palm branches for their sukkah coverings only from authorized sources that have checked the branches.